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1. What is asthma?
- Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease.
- Children with asthma have sensitive, inflamed airways in their lungs.
- They are bothered by many things that start (or "trigger") their
symptoms and make their asthma worse.
- Asthma can usually be kept under control, with a combination of
medications and avoidance of the things that trigger symptoms.
- When asthma gets out of control and an asthma episode starts, the
airways become very inflamed, the muscles around the airways
tighten up, the airways start to plug up with mucus, and it becomes
hard to breathe.
- It is best to try to keep airway inflammation under control to help
prevent symptoms and flare-ups.
2. What things aggravate (or "trigger") asthma?
Below are the most common things that aggravate or "trigger" asthma.
A doctor can help to determine an individual child's "triggers" through an
examination, medical history and allergy tests:
- Allergens such as: dust mites, plant pollens, molds and mildew,
animal dander, latex, and pests (mice, rats and cockroaches)
- Irritants such as:
- Smoke from cigarettes, wood fires and charcoal grills.
- Fumes from household cleaners, paint, perfumes, gasoline, and
art supplies with odors
- Cold air and sudden weather changes
- If asthma is not well controlled, exercise and activities that
make you breathe harder such as laughing, yelling and crying
can trigger an episode.
- Respiratory infections
3. How can "triggers" be avoided?
Some triggers are very common in child care. For instance:
- Avoid stuffed animals that can't be washed in hot water and
- Avoid arts and crafts materials with fragrances or fumes
(e.g., some markers, paints and adhesives).
- Don't spray cleaning fluids into the air when children with
asthma are present. To disinfect, dampen a cloth with a mild bleach solution
and wipe surfaces clean.
- Avoid products with fumes and fragrances.
- Adjust outdoor time for cold-sensitive or pollen-sensitive
children, and offer indoor activities instead.
- Avoid the use of latex gloves in routine, low risk situations
and use only as mandated by Universal Precaution standards.
- Click here for more extensive information about
Triggers at Home, at Child Care and at School
4. What information should I have about the children with asthma at my child care?
Each child should have an
"Asthma Action Card" on file
with you. The card should be filled out with specific
information about the child and be signed by the
parent/guardian and the child's physician. The card
- their triggers
- their medications and how to use them
- the symptoms that indicate when their asthma is worsening or getting
out of control. (Early warning signs may include tiredness, coughing,
and itching and progress to wheezing, struggling to breathe, and
having a tightness that can be seen in the chest and neck.)
- What do in an asthma emergency
- Click here to get an
Asthma Action Card.
5. What medications are used for asthma?
- Long-Term Control Medications:
These medications help to prevent asthma episodes
by reducing chronic swelling and inflammation in the
airways. They include corticosteroids, cromlyn sodium,
nedocromil sodium and anti-leukotrienes. (These have
a variety of brand names).
- Quick-relief medications:
These are called bronchodilators because they open
up the airways by relaxing tightened muscles.
They include beta agonists and theophylline.
Some asthma medicines come in an inhaled form (to be used with
an inhaler or a nebulizer). Some asthma medicines are tablets or
syrups to be taken by mouth. It is very important to know how and
when to administer medicines.
6. What training workshops are available for child
and Allergy Essentials for Child Care Providers© is a training
program designed by AAFA to give child care providers the tools and
knowledge they need to care for children with asthma and allergies
and provide a safe and healthy environment for children with these
Contact us at (617)965-7771 if you would like
to schedule a training workshop at your child care site, or to find
out the dates of upcoming workshops we are offering.
7. How can I learn more?
- E-mail us and ask for an "Asthma-Friendly Child
Care Checklist" and an "Asthma Action Card" -
- E-mail us and ask how to participate in a child care
provider workshop on managing asthma.
- See more extensive information about asthma and
allergies on our national website at www.aafa.org